Senior NLD figure Win Htein appears via video link for court hearing in Naypyitaw 

National League for Democracy (NLD) party grandee Win Htein appeared via video link at a court in Naypyitaw on Friday to face a charge of sedition, but like others arrested for opposing the military’s February 1 coup was denied access to a lawyer. 

He asked for a sentence to be handed down to him immediately during the hearing, said Phyu Win Latt, a deputy judge and communications officer of the Dekkhina district court.

“The judge rejected Win Htein’s request and explained that the court will only rule on the case after examining witnesses and evidence in accordance with the law,” she told reporters.

The outspoken party stalwart was arrested at his home in Yangon on the evening of February 4. He had recently returned from Naypyitaw, where he gave media interviews in which he said the coup was a result of Min Aung Hlaing’s “personal ambition”.  

Phyu Win Latt said the plaintiff has submitted the names of three witnesses but refused to reveal the details.

Yu Ya Chit, a member of the NLD’s legal team, said he had been denied access to the hearing. “I was informed by the judge after the hearing that he is being held at the Naypyitaw detention center,” he said.

He is among six NLD lawyers who have applied for power of attorney to represent Win Htein.

The next hearing is scheduled for March 5, he added.

Win Htein, a former army captain, has been jailed twice for his resistance to previous military regimes, serving a total of almost 20 years in prison before the political transition began in 2011.

In an interview with Myanmar Now before his arrest, he echoed a call made by Aung San Suu Kyi for public resistance to the coup, including “civil disobedience, non-violence and non-cooperation.” 

Suu Kyi has been hit with two charges – one under the Natural Disaster Management Law for breaching regulations aimed at curbing Covid-19 during last year’s election, and another for illegally importing walkie-talkies. Each charge carries a maximum three-year sentence.

President Win Myint was also charged under the Natural Disaster Management Law for greeting a crowd during an NLD campaign rally in Naypyitaw.

Their first hearing was held on Tuesday at a court in Naypyitaw. The two were also denied access to lawyers. The NLD’s legal team has been trying to meet them in person and are building their defense.

Over the past two weeks hundreds of thousands of people across the country have taken to the streets to protest against the new military regime and call for the release of civilian leaders.

The civil disobedience movement, initiated by government healthcare workers within days of the coup, has spread across many ministries with several thousand civil servants joining work stoppages.

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